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December 30, 2014: Following an injunction won by PETA, the 2014/2015 Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC will not feature a live possum. This is not, however, a complete victory as the injunction requires a state permit to use a live possum. Possum Drop organizers told the Associated Press that they simply didn’t have time to get one this year. Please continue to sign and show your support for a complete end to the Possum Drop!
Goal: 75,000 Progress: 54,260
Sponsored by: The Rainforest Site

Large crowds, live music, and loud fireworks — it would have all the hallmarks of a typical New Year’s celebration, if not for the terrified opossum dangled in a cramped box over the cheering mob. This is Brasstown’s annual “Opossum Drop,” which adds a North Carolina “twist” on the prominent ball drop in Time Square. (See the video under “More about this issue” for a first-hand look.)

In recent years, event organizers have faced increased pressure from animal advocates, culminating in a lawsuit that prevented use of a live opossum in the 2013 event. Not to be deterred, State Representative Roger West (who also happens to sponsor the Opossum Drop) introduced a bill (HB 1131) “to exempt Clay County from state wildlife laws with respect to opossums between the dates of December 26 and January 2.” The bill became law in June 2014.

An implicit acknowledgement that the event violates the state’s existing wildlife laws, this law sets a poor precedent, prioritizing personal and commercial interests over animal welfare. Worse still, this “family friendly” event teaches young kids in attendance that it’s okay to masquerade animal abuse as entertainment.

This leaves us until the end of the year to let North Carolina’s General Assembly know we don’t tolerate this brand of animal cruelty. Fortunately, a trio of Senators that serve on the state’s Environment Committee also voted against this awful piece of legislation. Sign below to stand behind them and call on a law to repeal SL 2014-7.

Sign Here

Dear Senators Jeff Jackson, Trudy Wade, and Angela Bryant:

As members of the state’s Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources, I am writing to you to ask you continue standing up against animal cruelty in all of its manifestations. Specifically, this is a request to repeal SL 2014-7, which permits Brasstown, NC to continue using live opossums in their annual New Year’s celebration, the “Opossum Drop.” All but the event’s most ardent supporters recognize this façade for what it is — animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment.

The Opossum Drop is especially dangerous in its depictions of animal cruelty. Billed as a “family friendly” event, the celebration dresses up torture and animal abuse in a veneer of frivolity that belies the tragic underpinnings of the event. Each year, organizers capture and confine the typically reclusive marsupial in a cramped space where it is left to dangle above thousands of cheering onlookers as they celebrate with loud music, fireworks, and even musket fire.

Concerned citizens are dismissed as hippie killjoys out to ruin a town tradition in the name of political correctness. But “tradition” often serves as a last refuge for anachronistic practices that fall from social favor. Opossum Drop’s defenders are particularly disingenuous, ignoring the fact that the event was fabricated in 1990 as a desperate marketing ploy for the tiny Appalachian town. Since then, the event has quickly enshrined a public display of animal cruelty that now enjoys state protection.

Those same supporters also argue the captive opossum receives better treatment than a wild opossum and then is released back into the wild after the event. Yet reams of evidence and experts counter that the abducted mammal suffers potentially lethal trauma from the exposure and likely perishes shortly after release. Opossums are nocturnal creatures that prefer dark and secure areas — not a Plexiglas case left hanging above a rambunctious crowd during a fireworks show.

A replica could easily stand in for these unfortunate opossums and prevent any potential for abuse — not to mention the mounting cost of legal battles in courtrooms and the state legislature — while carrying on the tradition. In fact, true adherents should recall the very first Opossum Drop used a ceramic replica and only later introduced the live opossum.

As it stands now, Opossum Drop’s only legacy is one of animal cruelty, teaching future generations that such mistreatment is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged. The punchline of many jokes, it’s easy and even tempting to dismiss the troubles of this solitary marsupial. It gives me some hope to see a small enclave of reason and empathy operating in an environment dominated by personal and commercial interests.

Please, do what you can to convince your colleagues and your constituents that SL 2014-7 is a shameful law and needs repealed immediately.


(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures

Jul 6, 2015 Irina Chicherina
Jul 6, 2015 Trina Snow This is horrific!
Jul 6, 2015 Barbara Resseguie
Jul 6, 2015 DeeDeeReichel Riechel
Jul 6, 2015 Melanie MacKerron
Jul 6, 2015 Christina Jones
Jul 6, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jul 6, 2015 lennart blomqvist
Jul 6, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jul 6, 2015 Jessica Dommar
Jul 5, 2015 astrid bogaerts
Jul 5, 2015 hilde de meirleir
Jul 5, 2015 Steve Tibos
Jul 5, 2015 lori lusk
Jul 5, 2015 Diana STEENHUIS
Jul 5, 2015 rocky randy
Jul 5, 2015 gaby janssen
Jul 5, 2015 Rebecca Lambert
Jul 5, 2015 Marci Turner
Jul 4, 2015 Jackie Cudney
Jul 4, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jul 4, 2015 Loreto Elena Fillat de Acosta
Jul 4, 2015 Teresa Iovino
Jul 4, 2015 P Kae Novotny Humans are the most vulgar, destructive and useless creatures on the planet. I am so ashamed of my species and our collective ignorance and refusal to learn, adapt, evolve and accept that we too will get sick and die. Learn some compassion people!
Jul 4, 2015 Susan Kurcz-Easom
Jul 4, 2015 Sarah Seveney
Jul 4, 2015 E Dumbleton
Jul 4, 2015 Brooke Munsinger
Jul 3, 2015 Sherris Molloy
Jul 3, 2015 Suzie Ford If animal cruelty is a felony now in all 50 states how can this even happen??
Jul 3, 2015 Susan Brand
Jul 3, 2015 Gina Cavitolo
Jul 3, 2015 Melissa McCage
Jul 3, 2015 Margaret Woodall These people call themselves civilised, I don't think so.
Jul 3, 2015 Dolores Doscher
Jul 3, 2015 Kellie Osborne
Jul 3, 2015 Haley Norriss
Jul 2, 2015 Tracey Stewart
Jul 2, 2015 Michela Claudia Capasso
Jul 2, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Jul 2, 2015 Christel Petty
Jul 2, 2015 Deborah Merritt
Jul 2, 2015 Marica Czirfusz
Jul 2, 2015 norma graciela varrone cancio
Jul 2, 2015 Chiemilynn Haman
Jul 2, 2015 Andrea Giza-O'Neill
Jul 1, 2015 Judy Veal These humans that use animals so cruelly should be dropped instead. shame on these so called human beings.
Jul 1, 2015 Mary Fitzpatrick
Jul 1, 2015 Jennifer Haverkamp

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